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TEDxUCL - Helene Joffe - Distancing the self from risk: AIDS, earthquakes and climate change

Helene Joffe is Reader in social and health psychology in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, UCL. Her research area is public engagement with risks ranging from emerging infectious diseases to earthquakes and climate change. She devised a method to study this naturalistically, to reveal the latent pathways of thought and feeling that drive surface-level attitudes and behaviours. She is currently studying the public engagement with earthquakes, aspirations regarding city life and how these same aspirations match and clash with carbon use. Talk: Distancing the self from risk: AIDS, earthquakes and climate changeWhat do the polar bear, crowded Asian chicken market and image of the emaciated person with AIDS in Africa have in common? They are all symbols of risks, which are distant from the space of the person perceiving them. If associated with the polar bear, climate change is not a direct risk to those outside Polar regions. The same holds for emerging infectious diseases, with their links to Asian, African and Mexican contexts. The symbols with which risks are represented have major consequences for those who represent them as such; they frequently create a sense of invulnerability in relation to a distanced 'risk-group', which is stigmatised and blamed for bringing the danger upon itself. I am often asked what consequences these representations have for risk-related behaviour. The aim of this talk is to elucidate the human response to risk, advancing a perspective that emphasises the advantages of naturalistic, cross-cultural and interdisciplinary research.
Length: 13:22

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